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  • Writer's pictureShannon Johnson

What's Under the Frosting....

Updated: Sep 19, 2018

Consider the times you've logged on to social media in the past week. As you scroll through your feed, how do you feel after staring at people with the pretty house, the cuter kids, the boat, the smiles, the amazing celebrations, the awesome abs? If I am in a "fragile" mood (I am sure my husband has other names for this mood), I leave Facebook feeling inadequate, fluffy, and dull.

Here is the thing to keep in mind. We simply do not put pictures of the struggle out there for the world to see. Well, there are a few people that really throw it out there, but most of us are posting the pretty parts of our world -- the frosting. I have great apps on my phone that cut out the extra chins and find the best lighting. I don't post pictures after a fight, or when I'm grumbling at the kids while doing laundry, but those things are a very real part of our world.

I love the lyrics from the song Love is War by American Young:

Young lovers in a picture frame Ever notice how there ain't no rain Nobody hangs hard times on the wall You won't see it in an 8 by 10 But there's a storm every now and then A slamming door down the hall

We all have our slamming door moments. We all have our "ugly" moments because we are human. Without struggle, we would not have growth or appreciation gained from contrast. Regardless of what our profiles look like, we all have our trying times.

Lately, I've been looking at life as a series of categories. As a child, I thought adulthood would all just come together. Since I turn 40 in a few months, I know that the notion of perfect adulting is an illusion. Instead, if we break our life into a series of categories (social, career, physical, health, spiritual, relationships, parenthood, for example), we all get a few areas where we shine and a few where we have opportunity for growth.

For example, some couples have the amazing career, the cars, the house, the beauty, and the health, but underneath all the frosting, they struggle with connection with their partner and are lonely. Another couple may have a really strong connection and kids, but they can't seem to catch a break financially. Maybe another couple is navigating parenting a child with special needs. Every couple has their challenges, even they appear to have it all together.

In my work, I focus on what is underneath the frosting. There really are not enough "things" or money in the world to compensate for unhappy relationships. We are social beings who crave connection. We want to be seen and heard, and loved.

In my office, I get the opportunity to witness the moments when a couple sees each other, and those moments are magical. As the saying goes, the eyes are the window to the soul. I encourage my couples to look one another in the eyes, so they don't miss these moments either. When someone truly sees you, understands you, and feels with you, you can see it.

I have watched couples heal after infidelity because they are able to sit with each other's experience and emotions and truly connect in the pain. I have watched couples dig down to understand the triggers that make the surface issues seem so small. Our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors all come from a valid experience. If my husband can understand why I get so triggered about anything that feels dishonest (my experiences in a former relationship), he has insight into my reactions, and we can move forward with that knowledge. From my chair, that is the good stuff, my friends.

My hope is that couples will seek the support they may need to access the good stuff underneath all that

frosting. Maybe for you that is couples counseling, or maybe a book; it might be a workshop or a retreat. Every couple has trials and key is to figure out how to navigate those trials together.

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